NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Several people were injured, and more than a dozen families were left homeless, after an extra-alarm fire torched a row of apartment buildings in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
As CBS2’s Ilana Gold reported Wednesday, the damage to the buildings was so extensive that city inspectors worry the buildings will collapse.
The fire broke out around 10 p.m. in a three-story row house at 427 DeKalb Ave., and was raised to four alarms as it torched that building and four others. Cellphone video captured the bright orange glow and massive flames shooting at least 10 feet into the air.
“These woodframe buildings are particularly prone to fire spread, especially in the cockloft to higher ceiling area,” said FDNY Chief Michael Golini.
Heavy wind made it worse, sending the flames jumping from roof to roof as hundreds of firefighters battled the blaze.
Firefighters were finally able to get the fire under control around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday and crews continued to put out hot spots as the structures burned throughout the morning.
But by then, irreversible damage was done.
“It’s incredible, I’m telling you,” said Hommy Pena, “because when I see all these flames up and I sit down right here, I’m feeling the heat.”
Pena, owner of the Kanku Dai Dojo Family Karate and Fitness Center on the ground level of the 1427 DeKalb Ave. building, watched the fire from across the street as it gutted his business.
“I put everything there – everything. All my sweat is inside there. And to look right now, it’s garbage,” Pena said. “A lot of kids had a good dream, and look what happened.”
Pena said his own dream also went up in smoke.
“That’s my dream to have a business,” he said.
The FDNY said 11 tenants were injured. Late Wednesday, they were recovering with bumps and bruises.
Investigators told CBS2 42 people had to evacuate — many of them children. A boy named Diego Nayancela said he had to run out “with my father, and my mother, and my little brother.”
The units were left charred and full of debris, and they are so dangerous that the city has issued vacate orders for everyone who lives there.
“She has to start from zero,” said Merlin Rivera, whose mother lived in one of the buildings.
Rivera said her mother didn’t have time to grab any of her belonging. She lost everything in her home of 23 years.
“She’s just happy that at least she came out with her life. You know, material things can be replaced,” Rivera said. “It’s still a difficult time, because she doesn’t know what she’s going to do now.”
Investigators late Wednesday were still searching for the cause of the fire, and were worried about the stability of the remains. Crews have set up a safety zone in case the remains collapse.
CBS2 asked dojo owner Pena how he could start over.
“I don’t know how to start over, to be honest with you,” he said, “because I want to continue growing in the same neighborhood here in Bushwick.”
The American Red Cross in Greater New York is helping 19 families with emergency housing and assisting with food and clothing.
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